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Officer In S.C. Shooting Previously Accused Of Using Excessive Force

Editor's note on April 24: An image from the video taken by a witness has been removed from this post because the copyright holder has rescinded the permission he granted to the AP to distribute that content.

Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, S.C., police officer who was charged this week with shooting an unarmed black man in the back, killing him, was exonerated in 2013 of accusations that he used excessive force against another unarmed man he thought was a suspect.

Slager was fired for last weekend's shooting of Walter Scott, 50.

The excessive-force incident occurred Sept. 15, 2013, when Slager and another officer went to the home of Mario Givens in North Charleston. They were looking for Givens' brother Matthew Givens, who was a suspect in a burglary. Slager went to the front door and the other officer went to the rear of the house.

Here is the report of the investigation into Slager based on a complaint from Givens:

The Associated Press reports that North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said the department plans to review the Givens case.

The AP, which first reported the story, adds:

"The incident report filed by Slager and the other officer, Maurice Huggins, provides a very different version of events. In the report, obtained by The AP through a public-records request, Slager wrote that he could not see one of Givens' hands and feared he might be holding a weapon. He wrote that he observed sweat on Givens' shirt, which he perceived as evidence that he could have run from Brown's home, and then ordered him to exit several times.

"Givens didn't comply; Slager said he entered the home to prevent him from fleeing and was then forced to use his stun gun when Givens struggled with him. The officers' report describes the Givens brothers as looking 'just alike.' "

As the notes show, Givens is 6 feet 3 inches tall. His brother, the suspect, is 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Slager was charged this week with murder for shooting and killing Walter Scott, 50, last weekend after a traffic stop. Bystander video from the scene shows Scott was running away from the officer when he was shot.

Givens shook his head when the AP asked him about Slager being charged with murder in the death of Walter Scott.

"It could have been prevented," he said of Scott's death. "If they had just listened to me and investigated what happened that night, this man might be alive today."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur
Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.